President Benigno S. Aquino III has called on fellow leaders of Association of South East Asian Nations to continue negotiations with China on the forging of a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea, amid tensions over territorial claims in the region.
By MST News | Nov. 14, 2014 at 12:01am
NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar—President Benigno S. Aquino III has called on fellow leaders of Association of South East Asian Nations to continue negotiations with China on the forging of a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea, amid tensions over territorial claims in the region.
In his statement during the plenary session of the 25th Asean Summit here, President Aquino underscored the need to create the code in building a “more inclusive” and “more prosperous” region.
“The President called on the Asean member countries to ‘continue negotiations with China on the forging of a legally binding Code of Conduct’ of parties involved in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea),” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in an interview at the Myanmar International Convention Center here.
“Speaking at the plenary session of the 25th Asean Summit, he said that this will lead to ‘building a better, more inclusive, and more prosperous Southeast Asia’ for all nations of goodwill,” Coloma added.
He said the President proposed a three-pronged approach “towards building a Southeast Asia that serves as a wellspring of empowerment” and inclusive growth – strengthen the foundations of regional cooperation and integration; develop and implement the economic strategies vital to the Asean’s common vision; and advocate the rule of law as basis for positive engagement and a stable regional environment.
Aquino also mentioned the “warm conversation” he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit in Beijing on Tuesday.
The two leaders talked about pursuing the peaceful path and continuing the agreements forged in the past between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China.
Relations between the Philippines and China have turned sour due to a territorial dispute over resource-rich islands in the West Philippine Sea, which are also being claimed, in whole or in part, by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Aquino called for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
“As a responsible member of the international community, the Philippines will abide by the laws and principles that we have committed ourselves to; these very laws and principles illuminate our path towards achieving our shared objectives for our peoples, our region, and for humanity,” he said.
The President also emphasized the importance of increased cooperation when responding to particular threats and issues, such as the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.
Aquino said the Philippines will continue to support the World Health Organization’s efforts to combat the spread of the deadly disease.
“It challenges the global community to action, and I can say that, within the limits of our capacity, the Philippines will continue to lend support to the World Health Organization to arrest the spread of this virus,” he said.
Aquino further noted the Philippines’ advocacy for the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women.
“As a staunch supporter of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, the Philippines will be hosting in 2015 the AICHR Workshop on Developing Legal Instruments on Human Rights in ASEAN,” he said.
During the plenary session, Aquino also expressed support for the strengthening of the ASEAN secretariat, an increase in the members’ budget contributions and the implementation of a master plan for communicating the character, structure and overall vision of the ASEAN community.